What To Do

January 2016 is done. Way done. Adios. Grand total: zero drinks. Many of you have done this before. Soldiers, reasonable people, (most) mothers. But I never had. I can’t even remember taking more than a few days off consecutively. Not drinking seemed entirely out of place in my life of living abroad and performing. And if you’ve never done it before, I’ve got news for you.

 

It’s no big deal.

 

That’s right. Taking some time off from drinking is not a huge deal. At least it wasn’t for me. And I drink a lot. I didn’t get the shakes or just have to have a beer or not know what to do with myself. (I never knew what to do with my hands sans drink, but that’s been true since we started growing hands.) There were a couple nights a drink or two would have been welcome, and I might have been a bit more socially awkward or reserved at times, but it wasn’t anything that novel or challenging.

 

Leading up to the month, I didn’t feel this huge sense of dread. There wasn’t an overwhelming sense of angst or worry about whether or not I would be able to do it. That was never really in question. If I couldn’t drink for a month without major problems, that would have told me that I probably had more of a problem than I would have liked to admit. I didn’t take the month off because I felt physically horrible or was going crazy or drinking myself stupid.

 

I took the month off because I had never done it and I wanted to see what would happen. A mixture of curiosity and stubbornness led me to it. How would I feel? Would I have more energy? How productive would I be? Would I be rich? Could I do it? Of course I could do it. I’m a Rudy.

 

So what did I learn? What huge life-changing experiences transpired in my month of sobriety? To be honest, I’m not sure. No flash of brilliance suddenly illuminated all of life’s big questions and provided answers. I didn’t have a come-to-Jesus moment. My same day-to-day issues were still there, just in a way where I was awake at nine instead of noon.

 

Instead of staying in bed in my pajamas, I would stay on the couch in pants. Instead of taking more naps, I would fret over what I was going to do with a whole free day. Instead of getting a half-assed workout in, I would get a good-to-decent workout in. Instead of not writing because I felt like human garbage, I didn’t write because I couldn’t find just the right temperature. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another.

 

And that’s why I don’t hate hangovers. They’re the perfect alibi. They give me an excuse for more pizza, for binge-watching, for taking multiple 40-minute showers a day, for putting things off. Hangovers let me stay in bed all day. They tell me, “You just sit tight, buddy. All that beer has earned you a day off.” The fact that I’m incapacitated is not a bad thing; it is a justification for my natural state of not knowing what to do.

Done is better than perfect.

So I haven’t been able to formulate anything in writing that really makes sense to me lately.  I do write at least 750 words every day, though, kind of in a stream of consciousness style.  So, instead of trying to make a post precisely how I think I want it, I’m just going to post what I wrote this morning as soon as I woke up, with zero modifications.  If there are typos or errors…who cares.

 

“Ok, time to write. I haven’t written in the morning for a couple of days. It goes back to that thing I have for some reason been trying to write about but having no success with: productivity. Why is it that I can’t seem to get anything done when I have more time to get stuff done?

 

There are a couple of things rattling through my head. One of them is something that Dawn said a week back when she and I had coffee. She was like, “I don’t like goals.” And that kind of struck me. I’m a process guy, too. I enjoy doing things. If I get a million dollars or recognition or whatever is not necessarily the main thing, but if I enjoy doing something, learn a little along the way, and tell myself that what I’m doing is worth my time for whatever reason, then I’m ok with it. The end goal isn’t necessarily the biggest thing in the world.

 

But it is a good thing, though. It gives you something to focus on. It gives your current work a purpose. Let’s not call it work, let’s call it action, movement, momentum, anything but work. When you have a goal, it defines your search. It’s the google search bar, I suppose. You put something in that search bar and you might find exactly what you’re looking for, or you might end up looking at pictures of the red panda for 70 minutes. The point is, the search bar (your goal) can help lead you in the right direction. If you just left your search bar blank the entire time, you wouldn’t have very much luck on google. I guess you would have fun on the other sites that you would randomly find by typing website addresses into the address bar, though. Who knows where you’d end up?

 

So yesterday was a bit frustrating for me. I had so many things to do – or that I wanted to do – and that I didn’t accomplish, really. I went out a few times even in search of a good place to get some work done, and I wanted to go to a new place, I wanted to be somewhere kind of novel where I wouldn’t be distracted (that’s a contradiction, I know, because if it were a new place wouldn’t I be more inclined to look at the new things and see what was going on?), and I ended up walking around Myeongdong, a touristy shopping area that I like to wander around, and went to a McDonald’s, only to find that their wifi didn’t work, so I just grabbed a bus that took me directly to the McDonald’s I always go to in Itaewon, which was kind of the opposite of my goal in the first place.

 

My goal, if we want to be picky about it, was to get some work done yesterday, and I did that, at least a little. But it was all over the place. It was last minute. It was not what I was expecting. I didn’t feel rushed, I didn’t feel bad, but well…maybe I felt a little rushed. Maybe I was frustrated with myself that I wasn’t getting more done. What did I want to achieve yesterday:

Do most of trivia for Tuesday night.

Lesson plan for two two-hour classes on Tuesday day.

Start the application process for Bridgetown Comedy Festival this year.

Pay the water bill at the bank.

Exercise.

Clean up the house.

Write a blog journal.

Eat at home.

Read the last 100 pages of Travels with Charley.

Get my 10,000 Steps in.

And I can’t really think if there were any other things that I wanted to do on Monday.

So, looking at that list, that’s a fair amount of stuff to do in a day, especially if you are to accomplish every single one of those things. And what happened? Well, actually, I got most of it done. I exercised at home and then walked up the mountain I live on, even on just about the coldest day of the year. And then, I’m not sure how, but by the time I showered up and ate, it was like 3 PM, maybe even 4. I don’t know how I got there, but I did. And then I left the house to try to get some things done, but it didn’t really happen for a while. It took like an hour of going to the bank to find that it was closed, and then wandering around the city and finding the one McDonald’s in Korea whose wifi wasn’t working before I just went to the places that I knew to get stuff done. I did most of trivia, then did some shopping, then came home, then was visited by my wonderfully weird friend Kay, who ridiculed the way I lived and kept my computer, so it was at that point that I knew I needed to do more, to do better, at my life. I got into one of those mini-organizational fits where I cleaned up my computer desktop, organized my haphazard files laying all over my home screen, tidied the living room, even the corners, went over my lesson plans without having anything on in the background, watched some video of my sets to help see which one I wanted to submit to the festival, and when that was all said and done, then I gave myself permission to finish the last 20 minutes of the episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend that I’d been watching when Kay stopped by to give me the sets of mine he recorded. I didn’t finish the book, but I got closer and read a bit more before bed, and I was in my bed by 12:45 which was my goal for this week. And even though the lights weren’t off at that time, I was still ready to relax and call it a day before I read a little longer.

 

I guess when I just try to randomly throw myself at tasks throughout a day, it’s a little harder to get things done. Goals might not be the best thing for everybody, but they can also help me get my shit together. Especially with an abundance of time. Write something down, check it off, and see what comes next. I don’t have to accomplish every single thing on my list, but at least it’s there, encouraging me to do it, or at least something like it.”

Drinking and Timing

Drinking and Timing

Four days this week, I’ve been doin stuff at bars. Every Sunday I go to trivia, on Tuesday I hosted a different trivia, Thursday saw me host a comedy show, and on Saturday I closed out another comedy show. Four nights, four opportunities to booze it up. Normally, I’d be getting after it all four nights, and while I might not get wasted, the drinks would be flowing – especially because many of those drinks would have been complimentary.

But nope. No drinks this week. And it wasn’t even that hard. I was surprised at the ease with which I navigated these bars I’m usually captaining from the helm of the SS Who Gives a Shit. Having made the choice before the month started not to drink, I don’t have to make that choice every time I go out to a bar. I know I’m not drinking and so it’s no big deal. If I start playing the “I sure wish I could drink right now” game, then things would be a drag. But I’m not playing that game. Making the choice once was enough. I don’t need to make it again.

For a while after I started doing comedy some nearly six years ago (and even on the odd occasion nowadays), I would play up the drunk comedian onstage. And when I would listen back to a set that I’d done when I’d been drinking too much, or playing up my drunkenness, generally, it would pretty much suck. It sure wouldn’t make it cooler or more punk rock or whatever the hell I was trying to make it. It makes it worse. It makes it harder to listen to. It takes a special kind of comedian to be able to have a bunch of drinks before or during a set and still have it seem like a decently polished and coherent performance. When it happens, that’s great, but the positive instances have been few and far between in my experience. More often than not, I slur, I forget, I get sloppy.

This isn’t to say that a beer or two before and during a performance has to be a bad thing. It can loosen the nerves, warm up the belly, get the blood flowing. It’s something to do socially to get ready for a gig. I often bring a drink with me onstage. It can be something to hold on to, to pick up when I’m thinking, or just to wet the mouth. It’s a comfort thing, but it’s not always necessary. In fact, I’ll sometimes purposefully do sets with no drink, just to see how it feels.

And so last night, when preparing to close to a packed house of probably 50 audience members who had been laughing (and drinking) all night while I had been sipping on Coke Zero, soberly worrying about set times and whether or not people would still be into the show after probably an hour and a half of jokes about Korea and sex, I was, once more, a little on edge.

A question people often ask is if I get nervous before shows, and my answer is yes and no. “Yes” because there is a definite rush that accompanies the thought of standing in front of a room of strangers and addressing them. For me the rush isn’t even about whether I get laughs or not. I know that those will come when they need to come. No need to speed things up. In fact, I often feel more uncomfortable when I’m with someone who is constantly hurrying, whether onstage or in life. The thrill for me comes from knowing that I’m about to expose myself, and that gets the heart thumping. But “No,” I’m not nervous because this is something I have to do. “No” because I know that the opposite of me getting onstage is far worse than anything that could happen to me behind a microphone. I can’t think of many constraints placed on me today that would be more damning than that of “You can no longer do comedy.”

So last night, when I got onstage, the nerves just kind of, drifted away. It was a kind of weird comedy magic. Onstage, I felt better.  And I certainly didn’t need a drink.  Oftentimes, when I feel something that makes me uncomfortable – like talking to new people or performing – I might turn to drinking to mask that feeling. But once I’m in the act of doing, I don’t need to. And that’s good to know.

Liquid courage is a real thing, and it has its place, but it’s not meant to be a solution; it’s meant to be part of the process. It can help grease the social wheels, and tonight when I wanted to talk to someone I’d seen at trivia before, I didn’t. I can claim it was due in part to the fact that I wasn’t drinking, but if I didn’t talk to people because I wasn’t drinking, I wouldn’t have done very much in my life.

I’m overthinking all of this, but that’s what comedians do. We overthink and then think some more and when we’re done thinking we start thinking again.  And sometimes, that’s where alcohol can play a very real and very useful role. A little boozin’ can actually take us to a magical place where that thinking switch is off, if even for a little bit, but there are other ways to get there. It’s just up to us to figure those ways out.

It’s the 10th. Feelin good.

Trivial

I’ve never loved Sundays. That’s not unique, but it makes it no less true. Psychosomatic as it may be, Sundays have always felt a little bit off. We all know the feeling that washes over us when we’ve finished a big test or a vacation or even just a lunch break, and whether it lasts a minute or a month, it’s there. The feet drag a bit more slowly, the shoulders slump, and the mind fights against the body that will leave both feeling worse for wear. The feeling that leaves us asking ourselves, “That’s it? … What now?”

Whenever I get the Sunday Blues, though, a simple thing my sister said one time pops into my head. “I think you just need to get over it.” What? Excuse me? As if it’s that simple? It can’t be. It’s something that’s real and in me and makes me physically feel weak and mentally incompetent. It’s not the two to five days of drink, that’s for sure. It couldn’t be, because I felt this way when I was a child, long before I was a drunk. Or maybe that’s wrong. Maybe I was a drunk when I was a child, but I was just waiting for the opportunity to let my true colors show. That opportunity, apparently, was called Korea.

With Korea came many things, one of them my fondness for trivia nights. Actually, not so much trivia nights as much as my friend and roommate Jeff’s trivia night. He has differentiated it from other trivia nights around here in that it feels less like a real competition and more like a game night amongst friends. And at this point, it basically is, as he’s been running it for more than three years at the bar we’ve been performing at for more than five, Rocky Mountain Tavern. A lot of the people who come are friends and fellow performers, and even the regulars I don’t really know generally greet each other with a warm smile, kind of like Cheers but with college graduates and Asians. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people at this bar, been onstage for far too long, and even felt the pangs of love a time or two. And what night does Jeff’s trivia night land on? Sunday.

So every weekend’s inevitable demise occurs at one of my favorite places, with some of my favorite people, doing some of my favorite things. All the better if we win, which occasionally happens, but my goal is mainly to share a few laughs, bust a few balls, and drink a few Mooseheads. My trivia knowledge is limited to 80’s and 90’s NBA players and professional wrestlers. So if “Chocolate Thunder” comes up, I’m your guy. Otherwise, I’ll be enjoying my beer and contributing as needed (as in, not much), and waiting to sing a karaoke song or two afterwards.

I’ve spent nights at trivia not drinking before, but this was the first one that I actually noticed. Saying no to drinks – even when we won free ones– wasn’t that hard, but looking back, I might have been a bit on edge. Maybe it was because it was the first of four weeks I wouldn’t be drinking at. Maybe it was the fact that there were two new people on my team and I wouldn’t be able to count on liquid courage to up my social skills. Who knows.

It’s hard to get much perspective when you’re in the moment, but perhaps a little has come to me in the past day. That’s not much time, but it’s some.

A brief list of my transgressions: I was short to friends; I cut off karaoke in a hurry when there was a small malfunction; I didn’t let my friend tickle me (Horrible, right?); and I barely said goodbye to a group of visitors I’d been in contact with when they left. Minor infractions, yes, but I felt them. I don’t know if anyone else did, but I did. If those people were in fact in my front room, I wouldn’t have treated them like that. No way.

This is not to say that I think I’m a horrible person or that these things are keeping me up at night, but I could have done better. I’ll do better.

You may laugh at these things that stick in my head, or at least say, “Rudy, that’s nothing to beat yourself up about. You were surrounded by a bunch of drunk people. You’d won free beer that you couldn’t drink for goodness sakes! You hadn’t socialized all day. Your university just lost the biggest comeback in bowl history!” And you’re right. And I agree with you. But why is it that we’re so good at trying to make our friends and family feel good about their hardships, that we would bend over backwards to help someone out in the slightest, and yet we’re such ruthless dickheads with ourselves? Why don’t we take the time to try to make ourselves feel as good as we try to make others feel?

 


 

Overall, though, it’s been a pretty decent four days to start this dry New Year. (Except for the first day, but I’ll talk about that another time.) I’ve been exercising, playing a bit of music, making food, writing, watching good movies and TV, and going for walks. There only seems to be one minor problem. For the first three days of 2016, each of my walks has ended up at Taco Bell. Ah, shit. Can’t win em all.

 

 

 

 

 

The Start

I drink too much. A typical week might include only one or two nights where I don’t have at least a drink. A typical weekend consists of multiple nights out or drinking until 3 or 4, followed by one or two weekly days that are lost almost entirely to the Gods of Hangover. (All of this is only aided by the fact that my current weekends are four days long.) Trying to count how many drinks I have on a big night would be an exercise in futility. My ability to handle alcohol has been cauterized by years of living in Korea and performing in bars. Bars happen to be the main place that I not only socialize, but also do comedy. The hill up to my place is lined with watering holes, several of which are open all night and their refreshing Cass and friendly staff are just so inviting before I make the final steep ascent to my house. Suffice to say, I’m at bars a lot. By any healthy scale, I drink too much.

All of this being said, I am a functioning adult human man who enjoys life and the people around me. I have healthy relationships with many wonderful people, have been able to hold steady jobs over the years, and my dashing good looks are surpassed only by my undeniable affability. I love spending time at my bars. One of my favorite things is being a regular at a place where I know and appreciate the bartenders, and I like to think the opposite is true. Drinking, getting drunk, and losing an inhibition or two are highly enjoyable activities. The social aspect of spending time with other people who are experiencing something similar to what I am makes life interesting and worthwhile. Buying drinks for other people is one of life’s great joys. I don’t think my relationship with alcohol is entirely unhealthy. But like every relationship, it could use some work.

That’s why I’m taking this month off from drinking. Drinking and I need a break. Don’t worry, though, Drinking and I will see each other again in February, in time for the Super Bowl and houseguests and being alone on Valentine’s Day. Whether or not temporarily giving up booze seems like a big deal to you, it kind of is to me. I’ve never done it before, in part because I thought not only that I didn’t need to, but because I thought it would be a cinch to do. Well, I guess it’s time to put my money where my beer goes.

So here’s the plan: I’m not gonna drink for the month of January. How many days is that? I consulted a calendar, and it says 31. Actually, I lied. I didn’t consult a calendar. If we’re going to be friends, we need to be honest. There’s going to be a lot of honesty in this narcissistic online record keeping system. It’s going to involve me talking about things that I’m not good at, or that I’ve failed at, and some of the topics may be sensitive in nature. If you’d prefer to keep that image of me in your head as a perfect man of everyone’s dreams, then I suggest you don’t read this any further. It’ll be me, warts and all.

After January, I’m going to be giving up something else for the month of February. Maybe it’ll be eating meat, or wearing pants, or listening to Hoobastank, but it’ll be something. I kind of got this idea from my wonderful friend and roommate, Jeff, who had a similar idea but never did it so I’m stealing it.  Resolutions are kind of lame, but I do like to try to make myself a better human being, and drinking less (none) will improve my creativity levels (I hope). Also, months are a good unit of time. They’re effective time markers, and they go by quickly. I went on a first date with a young lady recently who would only be in town for a month, and our connection was positively delightful. Immediately striking conversation, lots of laughs, same favorite book. I was smitten. As we laughed, I looked her in the eyes and said, “Will you be my girlfriend for a month?” She didn’t answer, but we ended up dancing and making out all night. I asked her about my question on our next date, and she looked up at me and said, “A month is a long time.” I laughed, because I’m pretty sure a month is the smallest unit of time imaginable. They pass in the blink of an eye. A month is, however, enough time to make a change, or to improve something, but not enough time to go too crazy if it’s the worst thing in the world.

I’m going to update regularly, at least a few times a week, about a variety of topics related to drinking (or not drinking), how I’m doing with it, how I’m feeling, the ways drinking has negatively impacted my body, mind, love life, comedy and drinking, nights out in Korea, as well as the things I like about drinking because – let’s be honest – drinking is a blast. Maybe you might just get a few chuckles from this, maybe it’ll spark a new thought or two, maybe it might inspire you to do something new. I’d love it if other people wanted to join in and not drink or not do other stuff together. Not doing stuff together is fun. As they say, misery loves not drinking vodka together.

 

I’m looking forward to this. I’m also not. But I am.

 

Oh, and that girl was definitely not my girlfriend for a month. She ended up choosing a young swarthy Frenchman over me. Then she left and I mailed her some books. Duh.

 

Happy New Year, you lovely weirdos!